Still No Reopening Date: Here’s What A Detroit Casino Will Look Like

Posted on June 27, 2020 - Last Updated on June 26, 2020

As it awaits a reopening date, the state’s busiest casino will require masks as part of a handful of safety measures.

MGM Grand Detroit unveiled its new-look casino floor Thursday featuring plexiglass and a 40% slot machine capacity, as WDIV-TV toured the downtown Detroit casino.

The Detroit casino’s parent company, MGM Resorts International, announced a nationwide mask requirement this week, adding to the seven-point safety plan announced earlier.

Previously, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said she hopes the three Detroit casinos will reopen by the Fourth of July, though this week she said the state isn’t ready yet.

Detroit’s casinos closed March 16, five days after Michigan sports betting launched.

Smoking situation solved by MGM parent company

A bit of controversy heated up this month as MGM Midwest COO and President David Tsai addressed the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB).

While the gaming board temporarily banned smoking on Detroit’s casino floors, MGM was allowing smoking in an indoor area outside of the casino floor.

As a result, board member Barbara Smith drilled Tsai about the details. Tsai said the large indoor smoking area had its own ventilation system and air wouldn’t circulate to the casino floor.

However, according to this week’s announcement by MGM, smoking will only be allowed in the connected outdoor area and not inside the casino.

Tsai told WDIV it didn’t make sense to require masks but then allow customers to remove them to smoke indoors.

Plexiglass, social distancing among major changes

Customers will notice the changes right away, as infrared temperature screenings await at the entrance. Then, before entering the casino floor, airport-style rope lanes will separate socially distanced customers in line.

MGM will turn off most slot machines. Tsai said 40% of slot machines will be in operation with typically two on per row.

They will also close every other table game. Those that are open will have plexiglass separating players from dealers.

Workers will sanitize dice and chips regularly, and restaurants have added QR codes to menus.

MGM also made hand sanitizer available throughout the floor and added a separate hand-washing station.

MGM added to state guidelines for Detroit casinos

The MGCB this month issued minimum guidelines for reopening, including a 15% cap of the legal capacity.

The mandated 15% capacity at the casinos is the lowest threshold of any industry in the state.

“We have Detroit residents currently going to Michigan tribal casinos or casinos in Ohio and Indiana that don’t have the level of requirements that we have,” Tsai told WDIV.

Greektown Casino-Hotel, MGM, and MotorCity Casino have pledged to abide by the requirements, which could be loosened in time.

Other guidelines are:

  • Limited entrance points with temperature checks
  • A ban on smoking on the casino floors
  • No poker rooms
  • Heightened cleaning protocols
  • Social distancing requirements

Detroit trio among state’s only closed casinos

Detroit’s trio are among four of Michigan’s 26 casinos without a set reopening date.

Twenty tribal casinos reopened already and two more will reopen next week.

The Baraga location of Ojibwa Casinos in the Upper Peninsula will reopen Monday, and the Marquette location will open Wednesday.

After that, Kings Club Casino in Brimley remains the state’s only closed tribal casino. Bay Mills Resort & Casino, the other Bay Mills Indian Community casino across town, is already reopened.

Whitmer has hinted that a reopening date could come next week for the Detroit casinos.

MGM’s hotel will not open until about a month after the casino does, Tsai said.

Michigan, local governments missing casino funds

Through May, Michigan lost nearly $100 million in state and local tax revenue from Michigan casinos being closed, according to a PlayMichigan analysis.

That’s without taking into account revenue gained by the state’s 12 federally recognized Native American tribes.

Coronavirus cases have jumped a bit lately after a steady decline, with Thursday’s report of 353 new cases being the largest since late May.

Whitmer announced Thursday that professional sports can resume in Michigan with no fans in the stands.

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Matt Schoch

A Michigan native, Matt has worked at newspapers in Michigan, Missouri and the Virgin Islands. A versatile sports reporter, Matt has covered sailing on the Great Lakes, cricket in the Caribbean, high school and pro playoffs, and the Olympics in Rio. He's also the host of the Locked On Pistons Podcast and producer of a documentary on Emoni Bates. A former blackjack dealer, Matt has studied the industry from all sides.

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